Friday, September 6, 2013

Flashback Friday: Fantastic Four #267

Been a hard week coming off of Labor Day and the trip to the Hillsville Flea Market.  I picked up 76 comics and this was one of that lot.  Part of the reason for picking this issue comes from my stupid choice of clicking on a link about the current writers of Batwoman leaving over editorial differences.  The focal point being a possible concern over the topic of marriage between to women in that book.  It got me thinking as I was reading through the pile of comics I bought and I came to FF #267.

I have to think that in 1984 when John Byrne wrote this issue that it was controversial.  It sure blows the term "funny books" away as a way of describing comics.  Whether you like Byrne or not one has to give him props for his run on Fantastic Four.  He did some interesting stuff in his stories and it will always be a memorable run.  I guess I should call SPOILERS before moving on.  This is a very old book, but still it has a an ending that was very emotional and shocking for the time.  I also have placed the last page in this post because of the power of that scene and how it was rendered.

We have a hospital opening with the tops of that day in terms of Radiation Specialists in the Marvel U.  Michael Morbius, the Living Vampire and Blood Specialist, along with Bruce Banner and Walter Langkowski who are the tops in Gamma radiation research and accidental exposure.  They have been asked to oversee the care of a member of the Fantastic Four.  It is a heavy scene and we are going to be given a solo story of Mr. Fantastic very soon.

OK, I rambled enough that any who wish to not know about this issue's secret can be able to leave and not read about it.  It is a pregnant Susan Richards that is facing a difficult birth because of radiation from being trapped in the Negative Zone.  She and the baby are not well and it is a dire circumstance that leads all three of the men consulting to suggest another for Reed to turn to for help.  That man is the criminal Dr. Otto Octavius.  He is another expert in radiation.  So the adventure begins as we watch Reed use his contacts to get Doc Ock released into his custody.  All seems alright at first, but soon the robotic arms and the ever present reminders on billboards of Spider-Man have Ock off his rocker completely. 

The arms escape police custody and seek out the Doc and find him as they attack Reed.  It is a weird battle that is drawn very neatly as the story progresses.  Doc Ock soon is reunited with his arms and then defeated by Reed.  That leads to Mr. Fantastic begging for help as Doc Ock is paranoid and unable to see reason.  It all falls apart.

We are given the shadow of sadness as the tale turns back to the Fantastic Four's family and friends are still at the hospital.  Reed arrives to the news that he is thirty minutes too late.  The baby is gone, miscarriage.

Even today that would cause the Internet to flame up as news spread.  Back then I can only wonder at the letters that Marvel received.  It is a powerful story.  It didn't dumb down anything and I think that is why books like this one stand up to the test of time.  It was not just a tale of "lets kill Sue's baby" but more a look at real life and how even those with power, money, and status cannot stop death when it seeks to take a life.  It is relatable.  As kids grow older they gain the appreciation for the story as a craft that was once just a sad tale of the FF.

It reminds us of what seems lacking in today's comics, especially at Marvel.